Updated: Nov 6
Warehouses converted to trendy residential units, churches to restaurants, and banks into clothing stores - the perpetual evolution of buildings nods to the past and gives character to the urban fabric.
Great cities evolve while the best buildings are made to last.
The modernist architects in particular leveraged their knowledge of construction to create spaces which minimized obstructions such as columns and walls, to allow for floor plate that embraced flexibility and the potential to adapt their internal arrangement. Modern office floor-plates exemplify this through post-and-beam construction with building services contained in the core. Internal walls are generally designed to not be load-baring so that tenants have the option to redesign their space in the future.
With flexibility intrinsic to its' nature, reimagining office space for new uses should be thought of as an inevitable phenomenon to be embraced.
Here are some examples of recent ‘office-to’ conversions:
Self Storage - Calgary - Top floors of an office building will be converted into self-storage, requiring the loading dock to be upgraded, and the addition of a wide passage along the window-edge. Lower floors will remain retail and office.
Residential - NYC - One Wall Street becomes a luxury 566 home residential development with exclusive resident amenities including co-working, private restaurant and wrap-around pool.
Medical Office - Houston - Greenhouse Medical Plaza required an estimated 40% premium vs office-build out. To accommodate medical needs within spatial constraints, the operator had to examine the suitability of some of their traditional practices.
Cities will always evolve. Today it is offices that are at the centre of this evolution, in the future it will be another asset class.
It is not only the physical space that will need to change to accommodate future uses, but the digital experience alongside it.
Designing digital experiences with future-use and different customer groups must be central to project planning. The digital layer brings a level of flexibility that overcomes challenges of fixed infrastructure and provides solutions to enable reuse in novel ways. When reimagining the reuse of office spaces, looking at it through a digital lens brings untold opportunities.